Chicago – Day 2: A Very Busy Tuesday

It was pouring rain when we woke up on Tuesday morning but we had a ton of things we wanted to do so we headed out anyways. After a quick breakfast we grabbed a cab to our first stop of the day – the Shedd Aquarium.

The Shedd Aquarium
The Shedd Aquarium

We got there around 9:30 am so there was only a short line (the friendly staff member who was handing out information said the wait the day before was 3 hours!). General admission to the aquarium is really reasonable ($8) and gets you into see most of the tanks but we bought ourselves CityPass tickets which give you access to everything, plus 4 more Chicago attractions and let you get in the fast lanes to skip lines.

We started in the aquarium’s Amazon Rising exhibit which was really good. They had frogs, giant fish, and turtles and I was like a little kid in a candy shop. The aquarium has iPads in front of each display where you can click on pictures of the different fish/animals that are in that tank and learn more which was really brilliant.

Watching the creatures
Watching the creatures

After about 45 minutes in the Amazon we took advantage of our “full experience” pass and went to the Wild Reef. They have a huge tank in the exhibit and we spent a long time watching the various fish and sharks swim. From there we went to see the whales, dolphins and otters in Oceanarium. Then we went back upstairs to the Great Lakes exhibit where I checked out the Asian Carp and got to touch a live Sturgeon.

Asian Carp
Asian Carp

We’d been there for a few hours by this point and wanted to visit the Field Museum as well so we quickly browsed the Waters of the World before heading out. We probably could have spent a lot longer so I’d recommend giving yourself a full morning to see everything there!

The Field Museum is right next door to the aquarium so we grabbed a vendor hot dog (Chicago style with tomatoes and celery salt) and walked over.

Hot dog
Hot dog

The museum wasn’t as busy as the aquarium so we got in right away and started our whirlwind tour. We checked out their Egypt display, some sort of soil exhibit, the animal dioramas, the geology section and the hall of gems. Our visit was a little rushed (we only had about an hour) but I was feeling a little burnt out anyways. If we’d had more time in the city (or the weather was better for outdoor activities) I would have saved the museum for its own day.

Sue, the T-Rex at the Field Museum
Sue, the T-Rex at the Field Museum

On of my “must do’s” in Chicago was an architectural tour so I had booked a boat river tour for Tuesday afternoon. It was only drizzling when we got to the docks but by the time the tour started it was definitely raining. The tour is designed to be enjoyed from the upper (uncovered) deck so I stuck it out for about 30 minutes before the sheets of rain forced me inside. Our guide continued his narrative so you could still hear about the buildings but views were limited. After about 30 minutes the weather improved to just a drizzle again and I went outside to catch the last bit of the tour. I wish the weather had been nicer but the tour was really informative and one of my favourite parts of the trip.

Trump Tower from the river
Trump Tower from the river
On the river
On the river – we learned that they raise up the bridges in the fall to let all the sailing boats in

Chicago - Willis Tower

The skyline
The skyline

Our guide had mentioned that the Tribune Tower has artifacts from all sorts of other buildings in its outer walls so after our tour we walked over to check it out. It’s on the main drag and is a fun diversion.

Stone from the 18 World Fair
Stone from the 1893 World Fair

It was still raining but Jon and I decided to walk home along the Magnificent Mile just to be outside for a while. Even in the rain the buildings are cool and it is fun to see all the fancy stores (we stopped at Garret’s for some popcorn but didn’t go in anywhere else).

The John Hancock Center
The John Hancock Center – or at least part of it

We were pretty tired after our adventures but once we got home we quickly tidied up so we could head to dinner at The Rosebud Steakhouse. It was convenient (just across the street from our hotel) and the atmosphere was fantastic but I thought the food was only good, not great. This probably has to do with the huge portion sizes – by the time I’d finished my starter I had no room for dinner. I did manage to squeeze in a scoop of their pistachio ice cream for dessert and it is the best ice cream I’ve had in a long time!

Completely full, we stumbled back across the street (paying for location was so worth it on this trip) and promptly went to bed. While we didn’t do anything incredibly active, a day of museums completely wears me out and I figured I’d need my energy for the next day.

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